Health News Roundup: Europe must act now or risk tougher COVID measures later – WHO official; Air pollution surges as heatwave sweeps across Europe and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Europe must act now or risk tougher COVID measures later – WHO official
European nations must accelerate vaccine uptake and bring back mask wearing to tackle a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by an Omicron offshoot and avoid stricter measures later in the year, a senior World Health Organization official said on Tuesday. In an interview with Reuters, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge urged countries to take action now to avoid overwhelming health systems in the autumn and winter as the Omicron subvariant, BA.5, continues to spread rapidly.
Air pollution surges as heatwave sweeps across Europe
Air pollution is spiking across Britain, France, and southern Europe amid record-breaking temperatures and scorching wildfires. Scientists with the EU Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) warned on Tuesday of unhealthy levels of ozone pollution across southern and western Europe which could soon affect northwestern regions.
Australia provisionally approves Moderna’s COVID shot for children under 5
Moderna Inc said late on Monday Australia’s drug regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax, for use in children aged six months to five years. So far, the shot was provisionally approved in the country for individuals aged six years and older and as a booster dose for those aged 18 years and older, TGA said in a separate statement.
J&J’s cancer drug sales help weather hit from a stronger dollar
Johnson & Johnson reported quarterly results on Tuesday that beat analysts’ estimates on strength at its pharmaceuticals unit, even as the company cut its full-year adjusted profit forecast due to a stronger dollar. J&J joins other major U.S. multinationals, including Microsoft Corp and IBM, in warning that a stronger dollar would hurt overseas sales.
Zimbabwe women sew sanitary pads to help keep girls in school
A community group in rural Zimbabwe is making reusable sanitary towels so that girls do not skip school when they have their period. The Chiedza Community Welfare Trust, in Zimbabwe’s Mutasa District, started sewing cloth sanitary pads when founder Gladys Mukaratirwa realised that local girls were missing school every month because they could not afford disposable hygiene products.
As COVID patent war rages on, pharma group seeks fairer future access
An alliance of companies has pledged to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatments for pandemics, as the friction around intellectual property rights for COVID-19 interventions between the pharmaceutical industry and developing nations endures. At the heart of the plan is a commitment to set aside part of the production of vaccines and treatments upfront for vulnerable populations in low-income countries when the next pandemic arises, given how fragmented access to COVID tools has left many populations unprotected.
Inovio to cut 18% of full-time jobs to conserve cash
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday it was cutting 18% of its full-time workforce, as the company shifts focus to developing its COVID-19 booster shot. Inovio in May had scrapped a late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine after the company fell behind rivals in the vaccine race. It said it would develop the vaccine candidate, INO-4800, as a heterologous booster.
Analysis-Years of neglect leave sexual health clinics ill-prepared for monkeypox
Sexual health clinics on the frontline of the monkeypox response are already financially stretched, leaving the United States and UK ill-equipped to tackle the first major global health test since the COVID-19 pandemic. Infectious disease experts say sexual health clinics – which offer confidential walk-in diagnosis and treatment – are best placed to identify and treat cases of monkeypox, which is largely affecting men who have sex with men.
AstraZeneca’s Enhertu gets broader EU approval for breast cancer
AstraZeneca said on Tuesday its cancer drug Enhertu was approved in the European Union for treating an aggressive form of breast cancer characterized by a high rate of the protein HER2, widening the therapy’s indications for use in the region. The approval of the treatment, developed along with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo, for earlier use in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, follows an endorsement by the European Medicines Agency last month.
EU signs COVID-19 drug procurement deal with Gilead
The European Commission has signed a joint procurement contract for an antiviral treatment for patients with COVID-19 with Gilead Sciences Inc, it said on Tuesday. This is the second contract for the drug, branded as Veklury, which is approved in Europe to treat COVID patients who are at high risk of experiencing a severe case of the disease, as well as patients who have pneumonia and require supplemental oxygen.
(With inputs from agencies.)